Just yesterday, I was having a video call with a CEO. He looked tired, with bags under his eyes. I asked what it’s like for him. He was talking about some of the challenges of leading in this new environment.

We talked about how you make decisions when you don’t have the answers? Yet, as the CEO, every hour or call is a new decision of consequence. He’s needing to pivot quickly from discussions on scenario planning to supply chain issues to new government lock-down guidelines to taking care of employees. “The worst thing to do is freeze,” he said. “It helps to know that my board is behind me and believes in me,” he added. It reminded me that in times of crisis, we especially need others to believe in us.

We discussed the new environment where we have to give up our mindset of searching for the “right answer” before we make a decision.

The Cynefin Framework (below from Wikipedia) by David Snowden is a great model to make sense of the world we are in. The first time I saw it, it gave me a headache. But then I realized that this was my brain stretching and seeing something differently. Let’s call it brain yoga!

The framework shows how different situations must be navigated differently and require different mindsets in leaders. On the right side of the model are situations where there is high predictability. For example, when a piece of machinery has broken down, you use the manual to fix it.

The left side is the landscape we’re in today. Low predictability. This is the land of no good answers; the path is created with every step. To thrive, we learn to be curious and creative. We ask different types of questions. We do experiments, and we learn. We take action, and we learn. We let go of old assumptions and unlearn.

If you’re feeling stretched and confused, don’t worry. I will be sharing more about the new mindsets that are needed to operate in this landscape. Remember, brain yoga is good for you!

Grateful we’re in this together!




P.S. Please share these blog series with others on your teams so together we can grow new capacities to thrive in disruption. You can sign up for the series here. And don’t forget to comment below with your questions and challenges so we can co-create for our community.

Showing 4 comments
  • Wendy

    I love the above framework and how you have created it along with the the statement the path is being created with every step.

    • Henna Inam

      Thank you Wendy! This framework by Dave Snowden is so helpful for shifting our mindset for today’s times.

  • Shafiq Ahmed

    I understand the current situation, but the reality is somewhat different. As the days passes and you are working from home (being unusual thing for a person who has never experienced this) causes depletion of efficiency, desires and creativity as you do not have the environment around you. This is the most horrifying thing to imagine about what we do 25 days down the line. You see, in my part of the world this is a 4th day of lockdown and we have a series of past or pending work to complete, so we have work. I don’t know what will be after that? when everything around you is at stand still. The only thing you can presreve is your human capital, other you can build over time, but for how long. God give us the courage to fight this situation around us but I am seriously worried about the situation unfold.

    • Henna Inam

      Dear Shafiq – Thank you for your courage in sharing what it’s like for you right now.

      If you were a coaching client, I would ask you to notice the feelings in your mind and body. To take some time to calm yourself. Notice that IN THIS MOMENT, you’re okay. To notice the story that is in your mind right now that is creating worry for you. I would ask you to consider ways in which you have been resilient in the past and that you have some strengths. Please take some time to consider these. Wishing you the best.


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